This week, Serotek’s iBlink Radio app for the iPhone and iPod Touch is in the “Featured apps” section of the iTunes Store. On the surface, this may appear to be a nice feather in Serotek’s cap, but the implications go far beyond company recognition. This listing recognizes the blind community as a worthy market as well as putting Serotek on display as a contributor of high quality software and content. This is a first. The first time ever an application for blind people has been offered to the world at large, by a major marketing organization, without qualification or apology. It’s just there as part of the best of the best applications Apple has highlighted for its iPhone and iPod users.
We created this application and placed it on the iTunes store, free of charge, for a number of reasons. First and foremost it is great content – a complete array of entertainment and information, all created by and for the blind and low vision community. This is everything a blind person needs to know in one place, quick and easy, accessible anywhere. This is my personal app of choice.
Second, this is a valuable resource for sighted people if they or someone in their family is losing their sight. It’s a time when it feels as if the whole world is ending. But this one application can be salvation. With it the person can have access to everything they need to know. It used to be considered a tragedy to lose your sight. But today, it is just an inconvenience. With the power of full accessibility any one can live a rich and rewarding independent life even as their eyesight fades to black. iBlink leads a newly blind person to all the information he or she needs and puts them in touch with what they need to know to survive and thrive.
Third, the blind community is full of people with an astounding and diverse array of talents and skills. These abilities are worthy of being noticed and appreciated by everyone. There are a lot of cool dudes out there who happen to be blind and who create some amazing information and entertainment. iBlink brings together the best of the best. A sighted person who wants to experience the world from a blind perspective, can do it on iBlink.
For as long as I remember, our community has been viewed as separate, different, and less capable by the businesses that produce high tech products. A few producers and marketers have seen us as perhaps worthy of separate but equal access to the things that everyone else takes for granted. Even fewer have been willing to provide full accessibility, but only if providing that accessibility doesn’t inconvenience anyone else. Unfortunately large parts of society, including many within the blind community, believe the blind population needs to depend on the kindness and generosity of the government and our sighted counterparts to accomplish the most basic of tasks. They just assume that social networking, the Internet and all the latest hi-tech gadgets are and always will be beyond our grasp. But Apple, and a growing number of followers, recognized that blind people are part of the market. They recognized that including us within their market scope is good business and builds their bottom line.
Apple has opened a whole new take on accessibility with products like the Mac, iPhone, iPod, and soon the iPad; each product is completely accessible out of the box and with all the same functionality our sighted counterparts enjoy. We owe it to ourselves to exploit these mainstream platforms and show the world just how smart Apple is. This week, our community, with its diverse array of talents, ideas and skills, is being showcased right alongside the talents, ideas and skills of the world at large. And you know what? It feels right. This is what accessibility is all about. This is what Serotek has been campaigning for since the company was founded. Blind and low vision folks being treated like ordinary people. It doesn’t get better than that.